Junior golf season begins

Payton Dube of Hancock sets up her ball to putt during the Upper Peninsula Golf Association Junior Golf Tournament at the Marquette Golf Club Tuesday morning, June 13, 2017. (Journal photo by Rachel Oakley)

MARQUETTE — The Upper Peninsula Golf Association Junior Golf Tour kicked off their summer 2017 schedule Tuesday afternoon at the Marquette Golf Club’s Heritage course.

The Junior Golf Club consists of players from age 8 to 18 from across Michigan, and for 15-year-old Marquette native Carson Kamps, starting the schedule in his hometown gives him an extra edge.

“It’s fun playing with other guys you’ve never seen,” Kamps asid. “It makes you want to do a little better when you’re on your home court. The key is just trying to keep every shot straight.”

For other golfers, kids such as 17-year-old Nick Althouse from Big Rapids, the Marquette Golf Club was a smooth start, both on and off the course.

“It’s a pretty easy course,” Althouse said. “The putting is a bit challenging. We’re having a good time out here making some new friends.”

Others with lesser travel found the course a bit more challenging such as Escanaba 17-year-old Parker LaPointe, who is a regular in the Junior Golf Tour, and said Marquette is an ideal starting point.

“It’s always a good course in great shape, they keep it really nice,” LaPointe said. “When it’s this early in the season, it’s helpful to have the green be tricky. Everyone’s having a good time and we’re looking forward to a fun summer.”

The Junior Golf Club will compete in nine meets across the U.P. from Houghton to Drummond Island through early August.

The UPGA Finals will be held at Terrace Bluff Golf Club in Gladstone on August 7, and to qualify, golfers must have participated in two of the other meets throughout the summer.

The top five boys and top two girls at the finals will move on to the GAM Junior Invitational at Forest Akers Golf Course at Michigan State University in Lansing on September 16.

But for golfers such as Marquette’s 10-year-old Connor Stade, sights are shorter than the finals at the end of the season.

“We just want to have a good day and get better,” Stade said. “That’s all we want to do right now, and we’ll see how the summer goes and see what we can do.”